I come from a long line of strong Aboriginal people within my family group and they’ve fought the fight to close the gap between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people within Australia and my artwork is my way of trying to close that gap as well.
My artwork is more or less trying to assist that discussion to say, ‘we’re Aboriginal, we’ve got a long culture here, a long history in Australia’, which a lot of people don’t know. You don’t really learn about Aboriginal culture in schools.
I don’t need to teach hundreds of thousands of people about our culture. If I can pick one person per day and if I live to be between 60 and 70-years old, then that’s thousands and thousands of days where I can change the life or change the mindset of someone about our culture.
What I like to do when creating art is to take inspiration from things around me, the earth, the beach, and put my culture into that and send out that message to the people around me so they can share it with everyone else.
Out at Lightning Ridge where we grew up and had our childhood, every school holiday my parents would go up to help our grandparents in the opal fields. The opal fields have these bright reds in the dirt and the rocks are bright white – among those rocks is where you’re finding opals. The opals themselves are made of various colours – greens, reds, blues and purples. That experience on the opal fields was probably my first memory of colour.
Something my grandparents used to say was, the world is always changing but one thing that you need to know is that you are part of a very long culture, one of the oldest cultures in the world. Don’t ever forget where you come from but don’t get caught back there, keep moving on forward. Be able to hold your cultural history but keep moving forward with the world.